Follow Your Heart…But Take Your Brain With You
Modern dating can be a little overwhelming at times. As someone who has recently stepped back onto the dating scene after a very long hiatus, it’s taken me a minute to adjust. Even before my dating break, I was never a regular dater. I’ve had literally a handful of dating relationships in the past decade. So it’s safe to say…a lot has changed. We text now instead of call. It’s more likely that you won’t even hear a guy’s voice until you have your first date than not. The days of talking on the phone til the wee hours of the morning and learning everything there is to know about one another before you ever meet face to face seem to be a thing of the past. So how can you safely navigate dating apps and online dating and meeting up with virtual strangers to ensure, as my friend Anetra would say, that you don’t end up on an episode of Dateline? (HA!)
One of the things I love so much about Bumble, the app I’m using, is that you set up your profile through your Facebook page. Which means it’s a lot harder for someone to fake their identity or “catfish” you. It even shows you if you have mutual Facebook friends, which gives you even more of a sense of security, knowing that although the person you matched with might be a stranger, there are people you know who can vouch for him. All that said…you should still date with your head. (Oh, look…that rhymed!)
On my very first Bumble meet-up, I was still very new and green at the whole thing so I didn’t have any rules or boundaries in place for myself. (It’s so important to establish some safety guidelines that you follow every single time you meet up with someone new.) I agreed to meet this guy at a restaurant without ever talking to him on the phone first or even asking for his last name. Truth be told, I felt a little awkward asking too many personal questions because I didn’t want to come across as too “untrusting” or “stalkerish.” (Side note: It is not stalkerish to ask for a person’s last name before you meet up with them. I was being silly.) Anyway…over dinner, I did finally ask for his last name and things got a little weird. It was like he was playing games or something…being coy…but for whatever reason, he refused to tell me. He just kept saying “If you really want to find it, you will.” Here’s where I will interject a note to the gentlemen: Guys, a first date with a girl who doesn’t know you from Adam is not the time to play cute little coy games and refuse to give her even the most basic information about yourself. It’s the time to put her mind at ease so she knows you’re not hiding anything. That’s not saying you should have to hand over your social security number or credit score, but dang it: Tell her your last name. Especially if you hope to have any chance of seeing her again. (Or unless your goal is to make her think you’re a serial killer.)
That said, even though No Last Name Guy never did tell me his last name, he DID pass along a very helpful safety tip: Apparently when you enter someone’s phone number into the search bar on Facebook, it pulls up their profile. Or at least it does if they included their number in their profile. So I was able to later learn the true identity of No Last Name Guy, and as it turns out, he wasn’t a serial killer. Still, his evasiveness was off-putting and that was our first and last date. But I walked away with a new resolve to establish some rules for myself to follow moving forward with first dates:
- Ask for the guy’s last name! The only way it will make you come across is smart and safe.
- Try and have at least one phone conversation before meeting in person. Given the fast-paced, technology-driven world we live in, this might not be possible. But it definitely helps establish a sense of safety and security to chat with someone and get to know the basics about them before the first face-to-face meeting.
- One of my favorite new tools out there is Undolus, which I’ve told you guys about before. Undolus is a community of women helping women through an honest and straightforward review system. Basically you can log on and rate your date by answering a series of pre-determined questions…or investigate your date by reading feedback other women have left about him, good or bad. This is NOT a platform that celebrates male bashing of any kind. It’s simply another tool to help women date safely and smartly in an ever-changing dating world. (If you’d like to give Undolus a try, rating your date is free. To investigate your date, use coupon code MANDY for 20% off.)
- Always meet in a well-lit, public place. I like to keep my first dates simple, like coffee or ice cream. Don’t agree to go to a guy’s house or have him over to yours for the first date. It’s just not worth the risk.
- Finally, tell a friend where you’ll be and who you’ll be with. Having someone aware of your whereabouts is Safety 101.
I love that old adage that says: “Follow your heart, but take your brain with you.” Short, sweet, simple…but true. Dating and dating apps can and should be fun. But as with anything else in life, you need to establish some healthy boundaries. That way you’re free to risk your heart without compromising your safety.
Got any safety tips to add to this list? Sound off in the comments below!